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Truth or Myth? Garden Lore Explored

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Post  cheyannarach 11/30/2013, 2:07 pm

What a fun link. I have enjoyed reading it. I have heard that you aren't supposed to compost citrus fruits (someone told my hubby that). I asked why not and he had no explanation so I continue to compost them. Hope I am right...
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Post  Turan 11/30/2013, 11:53 pm

Interesting thread.

Here is something I wonder about. I have heard said innumerable times that you should never leave eucalyptus leaves on your soil. That nothing will grow there then. But that was not my experience when living in San Diego. I assume it is like the oak leaves, phenols that disperse in a couple months and long time to compost but other ways fine.

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Post  Goosegirl 12/1/2013, 10:12 pm

Here is a link I found regarding the eucalyptus leaf question, as I had no problem with them in Nor Cal either.  

http://homeguides.sfgate.com/eucalyptus-bad-compost-65137.html

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Post  Turan 12/1/2013, 11:11 pm

So I was not delusional about composting them. I did not use them in the garden compost though, but more like a BTE mulch that broke down and became soil.

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Post  Marc Iverson 12/2/2013, 12:49 am

They accumulate lots of flammable sap in So. Cal and occasionally big branches fall off.  Their sap can peel the paint off your car in no more than a few hours, as my poor (formerly) nice-looking (formerly) expensive car can testify after not long at all in a parking lot ringed with eucalyptus trees.  Also great water-suckers, as I recall.  All in all, not something you want to grow unless you're a koala, unless you've got just the right circumstances.
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Post  Marc Iverson 12/2/2013, 12:58 am

Truth or myth?  Finished compost needs cool-off time(3 months? 6 months?  a year?) to be safe to put in your garden.

Example that prompted the question:  Every seed or even seemingly-dead plant I throw in my compost pile made of 90% horse poop thrives.  Heck, often better than the stuff I've carefully tended in the garden.  Way beyond its normal season, too.
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Post  sanderson 12/2/2013, 2:49 am

In college (last Century), I had to take Plant Ecology as one of the Plant classes.  One of our field trips involved selecting different wild trees, selecting a measured patch (was it one sq yard?) and counting the number of different kinds of native grasses and plants that grew under each tree in that square.  What we found was that each tree species had it's own ratio of plants.

Survival of the tallest or best root system or toxin shedding.  Something drives each plant to survive.  Eucalyptus in Australia have to compete for the water and nutrients so it makes sense is would produce a "toxin" to keep down many competitors.  What grows under living pine trees?  Mainly acid-loving plants like azaleas.  Once the leaves and branches compost, it seems that the material becomes more neutral.

In our SFG, there is very little competition for water or nutrients (exceptions fall under non-companion planting or "thirsty" plants).  Plus, regardless of what acid, alkaline or toxic plant material is thrown in the compost pile, the final material is basically neutral and non-toxic.

The plant world is as amazing as the animal world.
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Post  plantoid 12/3/2013, 4:59 pm

@Marc Iverson wrote:Truth or myth?  Finished compost needs cool-off time(3 months? 6 months?  a year?) to be safe to put in your garden.

Example that prompted the question:  Every seed or even seemingly-dead plant I throw in my compost pile made of 90% horse poop thrives.  Heck, often better than the stuff I've carefully tended in the garden.  Way beyond its normal season, too.
The seeds grow because the digestion system of the horse does not kill them and you have not hot composted the manure with the greens as well as you could have which does indeed kill the seeds when the heap  temperatures get in the 120 oF range and above for a couple of days running  as it sterilizes/cooks  the seeds and bits of live plant root .

 See "The Berkley 18 day hot composting method "  ..also note that it says  you move the heap and turn the outsides into the inside of the heap to kill the wed seeds.
 
I think it is Boffer who has a simple way of sorting out  the dormant seed problem  .  He makes the veg bed up a few weeks  before it is needed and simply weeds it as a crop free bed which means he can pull every single bit of growth out. He then turns the square over and waits another few days for any new seeds to germinate /appear, re- weeds the whole bed , turns it over again and then starts his crop growing.

Re:-
The resting / weathering of the heap it depends what your compost is made of & how you composted it ..

 My take on this is  ..... green horse muck , fresh fish bye-products and neat chicken muck  give off lots of ammonia  .. which will harm delicate seedlings . If you have too much of it in your heap  You could well still have it giving off ammonia when you think it is time served compost .
weathering buy restacking it in the  open to let the oxygen into it  will allow the ammonia to decay and or  escape .

 This is especially true of most of the commercially available pre packed horse , chicken and steer muck  that is passed off as fully composted material when in fact  the ammonia generated when you tip it out the bag tells you it is not   . That's when  you spread it out for a couple of days turning it over every day or so before using it to make your Mel's mix.  .
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Post  Marc Iverson 12/3/2013, 7:53 pm

Understood, plantoid.

What my question was getting at, though, was why stuff seems to thrive in raw horse poo despite all the usual cautions against using it. It seems that, far from being overwhelmed by ammonia, for example, once I toss something in the horse poop, it becomes almost impossible to kill it. I had a tomato plant growing there for a month after I ripped it up, in 30-ish degree temps even; it even came out with a new tomato. I finally had to physically chop it into pieces to kill it. Other things -- suckers, tops of root veggies, seeds from inside melons and tomatoes and cukes and squash -- tend to use the pile not as their opportunity to compost themselves up for my delectation, but to sprout and regrow. For a substance that's supposedly bad for plants and seedlings, you sure couldn't tell by the way everything I put in or on it thrives.
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Post  boffer 12/3/2013, 8:03 pm

Marc, see if this thread is applicable to your question.
https://squarefoot.forumotion.com/t15704-does-fresh-chicken-manure-burn-lawn-grass#162778

If your horse manure was from a field, and not a stall where it gets mixed with urine and bedding, it might not be too 'hot' for the plants.

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Post  Marc Iverson 12/3/2013, 8:18 pm

That's probably it, boffer. The horse poop I use comes from horses that are almost never confined to their stalls, so their poop usually has up to a full day to air at least its surface out.
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Post  boffer 12/18/2013, 11:05 am

Truth or Myth: compost tea is valuable for a SFG garden?

(Let's focus on the application of compost tea to Mel's Mix, and not its use as a foliar spray.)

I'm hoping someone can provide good evidence one way or another.
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Post  camprn 12/18/2013, 6:29 pm

@boffer wrote:Truth or Myth: compost tea is valuable for a SFG garden?

(Let's focus on the application of compost tea to Mel's Mix, and not its use as a foliar spray.)

I'm hoping someone can provide good evidence one way or another.
Here is an interesting read from a horticultural scientist about her search for peer reviewed scientific studies focusing on using compost tea for disease suppression in the garden.

http://puyallup.wsu.edu/~linda%20chalker-scott/Horticultural%20Myths_files/Myths/Compost%20tea%20again.pdf

Some evidence, one way and another. This looks like a power point presentation and perhaps missing some basic info.
http://organic.kysu.edu/CompostTea.pdf

More food for thought.
http://www.gardenmyths.com/compost-tea/

I think in my garden I will stick, for the most part, with simply topdressing my Mel's Mix with compost. The timing and amount would be dependent upon the plants that are in the bed.

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Post  plantoid 12/19/2013, 5:46 am

Truth or myth ?

You get better crops  if you plant acording to the phase of the moon !

A very contentious issue , many people will have views upon it and lots will swear by it .

 My view of it all :-

In the heyday of religious fervour  & still hanging on by the finger nails in these modern times , the priests being kept and fed by the others in their societies were able to educate themselves because of being relieved of the massive burden of always having to provide for themselves and working for some one else.


They intelligently used/hijacked  pagan concepts that had evolved over thousands of years as to when to do things & designed a planting schedule to fit the church calendar so that the illiterate congregations were able to follow the seasons for sowing  /planting  out & harvesting.

It is much more likely that the best optimum times for the sowing /planting & harvesting are done when the weather is the best rather than at rigidly set times on the calendar .
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Post  boffer 12/20/2013, 9:56 pm

@boffer wrote:Truth or Myth: compost tea is valuable for a SFG garden?

(Let's focus on the application of compost tea to Mel's Mix, and not its use as a foliar spray.)...

I asked because I can't find sources that say that it is.  I can find sources that say it's an important tool for commercial farmers: farmers create barren soil when they use chemical fertilizers year after year.  By applying compost tea every year, they are able to rejuvenate and maintain soil that is alive with micro-organisms.  In other words, they are able to feed the soil using a method that is more cost effective and practical than trying to add compost to hundreds or thousands of acres.

The farmer sends his soil to a lab for analysis of the micro-organisms.  The lab can then  tailor a compost tea recipe for the farmer to use that will boost the low level or missing micro-organisms, and that will make the tea lean more bacterial or fungal depending on the farmer's need.  The farmer will often have his tea made commercially, and the tea maker will have the tea analyzed to ensure correct results.  

The farmer will then apply the tea at a rate of 5-20 gallons per acre, depending on how depleted the soil is.  

5 gallons of compost tea per acre to maintain healthy soil.   thinking   It appears that a little goes a looooooong way.  

That all makes sense to me.  It's when gardeners take the concept to the backyard that I get lost.  If a gardener has a highly organic growing medium like MM, isn't the garden already full of  micro-organisms?  And if a gardener makes his tea with the same compost that he puts in his MM, isn't he adding the same micro-organisms?  Very few gardeners get their soil lab-analyzed for major and minor nutrients.  Given that the cost of testing is much, much greater for micro-organisms, I doubt very few gardeners have those tests done.  So they don't know what they're starting with or what, if anything, they need.

The type and number of micro-organisms in compost tea is determined by the variety of composts and other ingredients that go into it, whether it's aerated or not, small bubbles or big bubbles, ambient temperature, time that it is steeped, method of filtration, time elapsed to application, and I probably omitted some factors.  There are so many variables, no two gardeners are going to make similar teas.  And without testing, they have no idea what they've created.

But I keep coming back to this question: MM is 1/3 organic matter.  Are we really lacking micro-organisms?

And then some gardeners make  compost tea for the nutrient value: NPK and minor nutrients.  A gardener would use about the same amount of compost in a 5 gallon tea bucket as they would add to 1 or 2 squares in a box.  Although they say that compost releases nutrients slowly over weeks or months, let's give the idea the benefit of the doubt, and say that all the nutrients leave the compost and enter the tea water in a day or two of brewing.  So we're taking the nutrients from a couple handfuls of compost, diluting it  in 5 gallons of water, and then spreading it over who knows how many square feet of MM.  Have we really added anything of significance?

Lacking credible research, I'm really fence sitting about compost tea.  I'm open to the idea that it could be valuable to the home gardener, but for now, I'll put my compost in my MM.
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Post  sanderson 12/21/2013, 2:14 am

After reading "Garden Myths" above, it looks like MM achieves with its 1/3 compost more than compost tea added can do. However, as Boffer wrote, it seems reasonable that barren dirt could benefit from it as part of a rehabilitation process after years of just chemical feeding.
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Post  CapeCoddess 12/21/2013, 12:06 pm

I use compost tea occasionally because some of my squares & boxes hold a crop for the whole year, like most of the greens.  And when they are densely planted it's difficult to add more compost.  That's where the tea comes in.  I use it to 'refresh' the organisms & nutrients without compost getting into and/or on the leaves.

Do I need more organisms & nutrients, are they depleted after several months?  Probably not, but it doesn't seem to hurt.  And it makes me feel like I'm doing all I can to give my plants a good 'diet', like they give me.  Wink 

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Post  boffer 12/28/2013, 10:27 pm

Does aluminum foil make a good reflector for grow lights?

When using lights for starting transplants indoors, or growing plants indoors, some gardeners will put a reflective surface under the plants and on the walls surrounding the plants and lights, so the plants will receive as much light as possible.

There seems to be two strong opposing opinions about aluminum foil.

One, it works just fine.

Two, stay away from it at all costs.

About all I've been able to find is anecdotal opinions.
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Post  camprn 12/28/2013, 10:48 pm

I found some stuff, but it seems the quality of the light source is more important than reflecting a poor light source. there is a lot of lingo in this that I don't understand.
http://www.cornellcea.com/research/lighting/cyclopticsHID.html

http://www.uaf.edu/files/ces/publications-db/catalog/anr/HGA-00336.pdf


I have not yet found anything empirical about reflective foil or colored film improving seedling growth.

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Post  boffer 12/28/2013, 10:51 pm

This is the only source I've found by someone who at least has the background to sound like he knows what he's talking about!

http://www.tomatoville.com/showpost.php?s=37395eb9fae8efb2368c1aba8977215d&p=313755&postcount=3
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Post  boffer 12/28/2013, 11:13 pm


This link is a goldmine!  Truth or Myth? Garden Lore Explored - Page 2 3170584802 

Nothing about aluminum foil, but all the facts a person needs to determine lighting requirements, heating requirements, shade requirements, ventilation specs, energy costs, and more, for either indoor or greenhouse growing. Definitely worth book marking.
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Post  camprn 12/28/2013, 11:14 pm

@boffer wrote:

This link is a goldmine!   Truth or Myth? Garden Lore Explored - Page 2 3170584802 

Nothing about aluminum foil, but all the facts a person needs to determine lighting requirements, heating requirements, shade requirements, ventilation specs, energy costs, and more, for either indoor or greenhouse growing.  Definitely worth book marking.
Well......... Good!  What a Face 

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Post  camprn 2/15/2014, 1:21 pm


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Post  boffer 2/15/2014, 1:38 pm

Thanks, camp, there's some good ones on that list.
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Post  camprn 3/10/2014, 2:26 pm

OK, new myth /truth... Please someone do some research regarding this claim that aspirin boosts tomato plant immune system.  thinking 
Can anyone find empirical study? or 3?

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